A Book Review and Giveaway: Drop-Dead Easy Knits

Sep 23

drop-dead-easyIn less than five words, my review goes something like this:

You need this book.

Ok, so you probably know that Gale and I teach together regularly, and I’m pals with the book’s two other co-authors Kirsten and MaryLou, too (I like to surround myself with smart, talented people!), so you might think there is no way I can give an unbiased review of Drop-Dead Easy Knits. I’m going to be honest with you, people.

The patterns are insta-classics!

The quality and timelessness of the patterns reminds me of some of my favorite knitting books: Weekend Knitting and Last Minute Knitted Gifts come to mind. Books I turn to again and again, not only for the great patterns, but because the books themselves are beautiful.

That’s the deal with Drop-Dead Easy Knits: wearable patterns you can knit while slightly distracted by photo by Gale Zuckerfriends or food or wine or movies…what the Mason-Dixon duo have dubbed #knittingbelowonesSkillLevel, with brilliant warnings when you have to pay attention. Gale shot the gorgeous images, and the writing is funny, smart, and just plain companionable. Which makes sense. The book idea grew out of conversation when the authors were hanging out together, well, knitting!

I’m lucky enough to have two copies in my possession, and I want to share. If you’d like to win a copy, here’s what you do:

  1. Hop over to the Ravelry book page and add it to your favorites.
  2. Peruse the patterns and “favorite” your top three.
  3. Come back here (I’ll be waiting) and tell me in the comments what you can’t wait to knit from the book.

The contest will close at 11:59 p.m. on Monday, September 26. One lucky winner will get their own copy!

I’ve got a Camurac Cardigan in progress (just finishing work left to do…hoping to wear it at Rhinebeck), and tomorrow I’m picking up yarn to make the Keynote Pullover and Glama Wrap. What’s on your list?

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Ten on Tuesday: 5 + 5 Edition

Sep 20

Carole asked to hear about five things we enjoyed this summer and five things we’re looking forward to this summer. The pickle will be limiting each part of the list to only five, but here goes:

summer-collage

  1. I enjoyed my family reunion road trip in May. I had the pleasure of visiting with cousins I hadn’t seen in around 20 years, and the road trip included a stop in Cleveland (and lunch with the ever-inspiring Shannon), and a sojourn in PA to see Kentuck Knob and Falling Water. Wow. Wow. What amazing homes!
  2. I enjoyed a day at the beach. Alas, only one, but a good long dip in the ocean melts away my worries and anxieties. Maybe next summer I’ll get there more often!
  3. I enjoyed developing my sewing skills. I sewed a LOT this summer, and I learned from every single project. Details on those garments soon.
  4. I enjoyed the beautiful foods of summer, like strawberries, tomatoes warm from the sun, blueberries, and more tomatoes.
  5. I enjoyed long, lovely days and evenings on the porch, especially when it was filled with good conversation, stitching, and music.
  6. I’m looking forward to soups: tomato, butternut squash, potato leek, all made with bounty from the summer that’s waiting in my freezer to warm the cooler evenings of autumn.
  7. I’m looking forward to brisk air and colorful leaves while I hike the dogs in our woods.
  8. I’m looking forward to wearing cozy new sweaters I’ve been stitching.
  9. I’m looking forward to making so many projects from the newly-released Drop Dead Easy Knits–I swear, every project is calling my name (Keynote Pullover is up next for me!)
  10. I’m looking forward to Rhinebeck. I can’t wait to see all my favorite peeps in October!

How about you? What did you enjoy this summer? What are you looking forward to this fall?

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Come Learn with Me: CIA and Fiber College

Aug 17

I enjoy teaching so much, and never more than when I teach with my pal Gale Zucker! We’ve got a few programs coming up, and I hope you’ll join us for them.

Craft Industry Alliance Webinar

On Thursday, August 18, at 1 p.m. EST, Craft Industry Alliance will host us for a live seminar “Craft a Consistent Online Presence”. Gale and I will share our favorite visual and verbal tools and techniques for translating your aesthetic online. The webinar is free for members, and membership is reasonable–CIA offers terrific resources, which I think makes it a great place to be!

Photo by Gale Zucker

Fiber College

Thinking ahead to September, and the beautiful world of Fiber College, Gale and I created a terrific new class: Haiku Postcards (hey, I love me a postcard! Remember my 2015 Postcard Project?). Gale’s going to inspire you (and show you how) to take gorgeous images, and then I’ve got some fun writing exercises to spark your creative inner scribe (and leave your inner writing critic at the gate). We’ll print your images, create postcards, and write haiku. By the end of the class, you’ll meld visual and verbal beauty to create 2-3 postcards that you can take home to remind you of Fiber College or mail to a lucky friend. Register here.

Want us to Teach for You?

Gale and I would love to work with you! We believe strong images paired with eloquent words work together to craft compelling stories. We offer a variety of workshops and programs to inspire makers and entrepreneurs to harness their creative visual and verbal powers.

Our workshops and programs range from overviews of combining words and images for popular social media, to creating savvy stories for blog posts, to developing effective product and About pages. We also offer team-building workshops that utilize smartphone camera images and engaging writing exercises to create digital or print artifacts. We can tailor a workshop or program to your group’s needs.

We’re happy to visit your guild, company, shop, or conference to guide and inspire you and your people to discover new, dynamic skills that let you show the world just how captivating your story is. Drop me a note to learn more.

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Ethical Elegance: Summer Stitch Fest 2016

Jul 28

image-1Ever since Sonya announced it, I’ve been looking forward to Summer Stitch Fest! All summer long I’ve been working on my sewing skills, and now I have an entire (mostly) weekend booked just for stitching. Here are my (ambitious) plans, in a few different categories:

Sewing

  1. Sew Dress No. 1. I’m making a double-layered version, which I have cut and ready to sew.
  2. Cut and sew a Myrtle dress.
  3. Cut and sew a pair of Pants No. 1. I’m not sure the fabric I have picked is what I want to use, but I want to at least get a muslin made.

Finishing

  1. Finish sewing my blue Beverly dress. See how I’ve named the self-drafted dress I made with Cal earlier this year? This will be my third one in a blue seersucker-ish fabric. I’m adding red details–red bias binding, red C pockets, a little red embroidery.
  2. Sew the bias binding on a blue Sorbetto. Yup, it’s been waiting to be finished since June. Ahem.
  3. Finish the waistband on my Alabama Chanin swing skirt. It’s basted on and I need to stop being chicken about the stretch stitching!
  4. Finish my Alabama Chanin wrap skirt. I am so close to being done with this single-layer skirt. I think I’ll be wearing the heck out of it year round.

Knitting

  1. Knit my Joan Fuller sleeve No. 2. It is actually sleeve No. 3, but I messed up sleeve No. 1 by forgetting to switch to larger needles. #rookiemistake
  2. Rip back the yoke on my Stopover and re-knit it. I stitched merrily along before realizing it was all sorts of not right. May as well get it right, right?

I’ll report back next week and let you know how I make out. How about you? Do you have Summer Stitch Fest plans? Tell me about them!

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Ten on Tuesday: Holiday Weekend Edition

May 31

waterThe long weekend seemed longer than usual! Carole asked about weekend fun, so here’s my list:

  1. Visited Shakespeare’s First Folio at Amherst College. Yup, Folger Library created a project that sends First Folios all around the country. You can see when it is visiting a space near you on their tour list. I sorta want a concert shirt for this one.
  2. Got hissed at by an opossum while hiking with Oskar and Coco. (I hate that this one is being laughed at, but I wanted you to understand the experience. So let’s pretend it isn’t in a cage and that both human and dogs are walking away with Great Respect.)
  3. Reached day 150 of daily (at home) yoga practice. I am so glad Sarah told me about Yoga with Adriene. I really love Adriene’s practices and sense of humor.
  4. Cut out a Sorbetto tank. The pattern is well written and free! It’s great for any level, and cool variations abound.
  5. Made the yummy Smitten Kitchen broccoli slaw. Even though I did not win a prize with it at my recent family reunion, it is a prize-worthy dish!
  6. Napped.
  7. Picked out my yarn for the Through the Loops Mystery Shawl 2016–I’ll share my pick in another post. Are you joining in on this annual delight?
  8. Sipped cold beverages on the porch. I did not, though, have my first G&T of the season. Maybe next weekend. Honestly, it was so hot so quickly that all I wanted was water!
  9. Visited…a working visit with my MotherShould? co-editor, an impromptu visit with my friend Leah during which we talked about poetry (I’m still writing it–nearly done with my second round of Rananim workshops with Sawnie Morris), an informative visit with my folks–my aunt has created a beautiful family history album, and she sent dad a chunk of it that includes some great pictures, and a fun visit with my mother-in-law, who loves to laugh, just like her son does!
  10. Picked out the dress I’m going to make for my brother’s wedding in September. Let’s just say Alabama Chanin had a sale, and I snapped up supplies! It’s a good thing Vicki had her color cards at the ready to help me figure out what I wanted!

How about you? What fun did you have this weekend?

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Ethical Elegance: Drafting Patterns

May 26

shift dressJust about this time last year, I took a pattern drafting class with Cal Patch. While I learned a lot from the class, when I made my muslin at home, I didn’t quite know how to make adjustments to the muslin or pattern. Cal had explained it, but I longed for some hands-on guidance. So when I saw that she was teaching a two-day version of the class at Drop Forge and Tool, I jumped on it. On the first day of class, we drafted our patterns and made muslins. On day two, Cal helped us each adjust the muslin and pattern, and then we sewed beautiful shift dresses! I had to leave for home before I could finish mine, and with the end-of-semester crunch followed by a week-long road trip, it took until this week before I did finish.

I learned so much from this class, and as is often the case for me, going through the pattern drafting part of it a second time really helped me understand the process. I’m a slow learner, and luckily, Cal is a patient teacher!

Tomorrow I’ll wear my new dress for the first time as part of #MeMadeMay and, you know, as part of my habit of wearing new clothes I’ve made. I’m looking forward to adding more garments I love to my closet and transitioning the worn RTW garments out of it.

Interested in drafting your own patterns? Peruse Cal’s website–she’s got an awesome book, links to her terrific Creativebug classes (I refer to them all the time!), and details about her upcoming week-long Handmade Wardrobe workshop at A Gathering of Stitches.

As I gear up for my summer sewing frenzy, tell me about your stitching projects. What are you planning to make?

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Ten on Tuesday: Dessert Edition

May 24

pieNothing to get me back in the blogging groove like an invitation to talk dessert! Carole asked for Ten Favorite Desserts, and I figured with summer on the verge–which means Open Porch Wednesday on the verge–which means a weekly excuse to make lovely desserts–I’m bound to find some great new ideas by reading everyone’s posts today!  Here are my faves (for summer, natch):

  1. Smitten Kitchen’s Blueberry Cornmeal Butter Cake (it’s from her cookbook, but the link is to the recipe). Once local blueberries ripen, this cake is my go-to. It’s super easy to make and, if there should be leftovers, is amazing the next day!
  2. Cherry Clafoutis. I use Julia Child’s recipe. I pit the cherries, though friends who grew up in France claim they ought not to be pitted. Adding almond extract replaces the flavor the pits render.
  3. Homemade ice cream. I splurged on the ice cream maker attachment for my KitchenAid a few years back and have never regretted it. I usually make vanilla (with my homemade vanilla extract) and add fresh fruit toppings. Sometimes I get fancy and make sugar cookie cups to serve it in!
  4. Sour Cream Lemon Pie. I cut out the recipe from my paper years ago–if you want it, let me know and I’ll send you a copy. It requires turning on the oven, but only long enough to set the pie. It is so refreshing on a hot evening!
  5. Fresh berries. Really, isn’t that what summer is about? Just pick, wash, cut as needed, and eat!
  6. Watermelon, Lime and Mint salad. I rough chop the melon, cut a bunch of mint from my garden, and squeeze a lime or two over it all.
  7. Green Smoothie. I know, it sounds too healthy to be dessert. I make a basic one: 2 cups water, 2 cups baby spinach, 1 large ripe banana, 1 cup mango, 1 cup pineapple, lots of powdered ginger. Super delicious and satisfying.
  8. Homemade Popsicles. This cucumber mint recipe looks like one to try this summer!
  9. Lemon Bundt Cake. I like this with raspberries or blueberries and a touch of fresh whipped cream!
  10. Cherry Pie. I don’t have the pie making chops Carole does, but I’m working on it! In the summer, cherry is my fave. I’ll be making rhubarb pie (no strawbs) for my dad soon, and if my oldest brother is coming over, I’ll bake blueberry. Pie with fresh fruit in it always rocks!

How about you? What are your favorite (summer) desserts?

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